Canada reopens cod fishery after 32-year pause to replenish stocks

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada said on Wednesday it would allow some commercial fishing of cod to restart off its northeastern Atlantic coast, more than 30 years after it was shut down to protect plummeting stocks.

Cod had been a mainstay of the economy in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador for centuries but in 1992, the federal government declared a moratorium, a move that caused immense economic hardship in an already poor part of Canada.

Fisheries Minister Diane Lebouthillier declared an end to the moratorium and said fleets would be able to catch 18,000 tonnes for the 2024 season. By comparison, in the 1980s, annual catches of 250,000 tonnes had been allowed.

"(This) is a historic milestone for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians ... we will cautiously but optimistically build back this fishery," she said in a statement.

The 1992 moratorium, declared after decades of overfishing, put more than 30,000 people out of a job and forced them to find new careers or move elsewhere for work. Some coastal communities were abandoned.

"I remember the overall atmosphere felt across our great province and the devastation it left. Today is a great day: this fishery is coming back," Churence Rogers, one of the province's federal legislators, said in a statement.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sandra Maler)